Get To Know: Xavier Segers, The Last Dodo, and Augmented Reality.
We are, without a doubt, really excited about Augmented Reality. There are so many possibilities that AR brings to the world of art and creativity and you should be just as excited as ourselves and Xavier, an illustrator, art director, and AR artist that we have had our eyes on for a while now.
We’re excited to share this wonderful interview we got to have with Ello artist Xavier Segers (@thelastdodo) with you. Xavier has been a part of the Ello community for years now and is a frequent contributor to the Ello community.
We chat about his journey from art directing to his freelance design and illustration career, his inspirations, an incredible AR installation he helped create at the Welsh National Opera, and his journey into the bright new work of augmented reality as an art form.
Read on to learn more.
Can you share a little bit of background info about yourself and your design/illustration career and journey?
I’m a Belgian graphic designer and illustrator. I moved from Antwerp to London in 2014 when I was offered a position as art director for a brand activation agency. After 2 years I made the move to freelancing which really gave me the freedom to explore a multitude of different things. I love the variety of projects I get to be a part of with my ad and design agency work, together with my personal clients. From making a logo and identity for a startup to illustrating bespoke wallpaper for a wine bar.
I take heavy inspiration from the natural world and my mixed Korean cultural heritage. I believe being a freelancer keeps me on my toes and brings out the best in me creatively. I really appreciate having a bit more control over the types of projects I work on. And since making the move I’ve uncovered a passion for illustrating. Just this month 2 projects of mine were long listed for the world illustration awards. The first being the Immersive installation “A Vixen’s Tale” for Welsh National Opera and the second being the invitations I did for the BAFTAS.
What’s the story behind “The Last Dodo”?
After graduating I chose this name for several reasons. I have always been intrigued by this bird. It’s been extinct for more than 300 years and still keeps popping up in literature and popular culture. It shows the power that certain things can have that result in an unexpected longevity. So being the last of its kind seems to me a way of highlighting that I know how to survive and that I can adapt quickly to new situations.
This is what I want to achieve with my work for my clients and projects, keeping them “alive” and relevant for a very long time.
With that in mind I’ve recently made the decision to move forward using my own name for my visual art projects and to keep The Last Dodo for my more graphic and branding projects. xaviersegers.com will be launching this summer to showcase my illustration projects and visual art.
Share some inspirations/artists/work you’re a fan of with us!
Last year I saw Gary Card speak at Us By Night. I immediately became a fan of his imaginative and trippy art. His ability to apply his style and vision to anything, from designer toys to Christmas trees, is truly inspiring.
I’m currently really enjoying the work I’m seeing from Felipe Pantone. I love how well executed and ambitious his projects are. His pixelated gradients and dynamic patterns are so recognisable and stunning on smaller and larger scale.
But in general I love visiting art galleries and exhibitions. Behind every work of art there is a story of (failed) experiments, perseverance, and expressive growth. It’s nice being able to see a snapshot of that journey.
Tell us about the backstory of the “A Vixen’s Tale” AR project?
A Vixen’s Tale is a mixed physical and digital installation inspired by Leoš Janáček’s opera, The Cunning Little Vixen. The experience was commissioned by Welsh National Opera in partnership with Arcade. The brief was to use immersive technology to engage new opera audiences.
Visitors are welcomed to walk through the interactive installation consisting of five wooden arches, each representing a different stage in the Vixen’s story and together providing a dramatic visual metaphor for the cycle of life. Using mobile devices, people could follow the vixen that would guide them through the installation, where they interacted with the artwork, listen to the opera, and play intuitive games.
I was brought in to design the arches and illustrate the visual universe of the Vixen.
Some interesting things you learned during the process of translating your illustrations into AR with Arcade?
This project changed the way I think about illustrating. It really opened up my eyes to the endless possibilities that AR as a medium has to offer. The collaborative nature I had with Arcade and the opportunity that was created by Welsh National Opera was truly a unique experience. I’m used to working mostly by myself and now I was surrounded by passionate people that lifted my illustrations to the next level. Due to technical specifications I had to think more instrumentally about my illustrations. Knowing that it had to be applicable to skins that had to cover polygons and create extra elements that could be used in motion graphics.
What sparked your interest in Augmented Reality?
Like for many of us, the face filters you get via social media are the first examples of AR we encounter. The ability of digitally changing your face and feeling like someone or something else is truly engaging and fun.
The project I did with Arcade made me realise that AR has the ability to transport you to a different world. It’s like a veil that has been lifted and shows you a different dimension that coexists with your own. It seems magical and taps into your inner child that is curious and wants to explore. The transformative power of this young medium has truly the potential of making users fully engaged with your work or project.
What is the most daunting or challenging part of Augmented Reality?
Wanting to be able to do everything. Make amazing illustrations and be a great motion designer and be able to do 3D. Keep it simple in the beginning and grow steadily. Like with everything there is a learning curve.
One funny thing I discovered with AR experience is that if it takes a long time, people start complaining that they get tired of holding their mobile devices up. But the future may well bring the solution to that with the introduction of wearables.
What is the most exciting part of your journey into the field of Augmented Reality?
Seeing my creations come alive and witnessing people interact with them is truly exciting and gratifying.
I’m currently finalising a small AR self-initiated project of mine, called Ruby Roaches. It combines my newfound enthusiasm for AR with my love of nature and illustration. Where you can bring illustrated taxidermy beetles alive in their frames.
Are there any Augmented Reality Artists you look up to?
Together with Arcade I did the [AR]T Walk, a walking tour that was created by Apple in collaboration with the New Museum. During the 90 minute experience established artists showcased through AR how they reimagined or invented new ways to express core themes of their art practice. I really loved the AR experience from Carsten Höller, which envisions a disorienting black and white world that plays with your expectations.
Tips or advice for other creatives who are also interested in exploring the world of Augmented Reality?
There are so many free online resources available like apps and tutorials that are easy to find and help you quickly get the basics covered. Social media has a big part to play in this, offering platforms where you can experiment and publish your creations.
My advice is to always be true to your original discipline and style and see Augmented Reality as a medium which can shine a new light on your work. Just dive into it, have fun and play around.